Making a mockery of Scotland

History was made in the House of Commons on Monday night of this week - but not in the way most of us would wish.

The vote on the Scotland Bill was arguably the most important piece of Scottish legislation to pass through the Commons since the establishment of the Holyrood parliament in 1999.

It was, frankly, little less than a disgrace, and made a complete mockery of claims that Westminster is a mature democracy, serving all parts of the United Kingdom fully and fairly.

The bill does bring more powers to Scotland, and I welcome that. The more we can do, the more we can deliver to our people and our communities. But this bill is notable not for what it delivers, but what it doesn't.

The SNP group put forward a series of sensible amendments, including giving us power over welfare payments, food levies and tax credits. In every case, these were thrown out.

The UK Government, backed by the Labour business managers, would only allow six hours of Commons time for debate. That may sound a lot, but for legislation of this importance and complexity - there were more than 100 amendments from the Tories alone -  it was nowhere near enough.

To examine it properly, it should have been held over a number of days. But even the small amount of time which was made available was squeezed down by earlier Commons business over-running and by having to vote.

Some of the contributions were as depressing as they were dreadful. Leicestershire Tory MP Alberto Costa, who was one of very few Conservatives to actually bother to turn up for the debate, seemed far more interested in trying to needle the SNP group rather than saying anything constructive.

And Nottinghamshire Labour backbencher Graham Allen took up nearly half an hour of valuable time rambling on about English devolution, even though it had nothing to do with the bill. He went on for so long that eventually the Deputy Speaker told him to wind up. Yet the SNP's Westminster leader, Angus Robertson, got only 150 seconds before being cut off.

The whole thing was, to put it bluntly, a farce. It wasn't any sort of a debate at all. It was clear that neither the Tories nor Labour - who shamefully once again colluded with them - had any intention of listening to the Scottish people or properly discussing the issue. They were, quite literally, laying down the law.

The UK Government claims that the Scotland Bill fulfils both The Vow and the recommendations of the Smith Commission. It doesn't. And ministers have also completely failed to recognise something else - that the SNP stood on a platform of more powers at May's General Election and in doing so, received a massive endorsement from Scottish voters.

Winning 50 per cent of the vote and electing 56 of Scotland's 59 MPs is a pretty decisive mandate. Yet the Tories and Labour, with just one Scottish MP each, have completely failed to recognise this reality.

So that's it. Westminster's response to last year's referendum, and its so-called respect agenda, has been unmasked. Frankly, it's an insult.

And next May, at the elections for Holyrood, the Scottish people will have the opportunity to give their verdict on it.